Photos by Meg Minard and Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse 1 Center Court Cleveland, OH 44115
Year Opened: 1994
Lock Erie Monsters
Professional hockey has been played in Cleveland since 1929. The Cleveland Indians, later renamed the Falcons and then the Barons, were members of the International Hockey League and then original members of the American Hockey League. The Barons won nine Calder Cups as AHL champions before being forced to move with the emergence of the World Hockey Association’s Crusaders in 1972.
In 1976 the California Golden Seals relocated to Cleveland, taking the Barons’ name. After just two seasons, the team merged with the Minnesota North Stars, leaving Cleveland without hockey until 1992, when the Lumberjacks joined the IHL. When the Lumberjacks folded in 2001, the Kentucky Thoroughblades relocated to downtown Cleveland, and took the name Barons once again. In 2006 these Barons relocated to Worcester, MA. Dan Gilbert, who owned the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, purchased the defunct Utah Grizzlies and brought the Lake Erie Monsters to town in 2007. The Monsters won the Calder Cup in 2016.
Quicken Loans Arena, originally named Gund Arena, opened in 1994 as part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex along with adjacent Progressive Field. The building is also home to the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League.
In December 2017 plans to renovate Quicken Loans Arena were announced. The overall square footage of the concourse will be increased, open spaces will be added to the facility, and other improvements throughout the facility will be made. The project will cost $193 million, with $100 million paid for by county taxes.
Note: In April 2019, Quicken Loans Arena name was changed to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Food & Beverage 4
While not every concession stand at Quicken Loans Arena is open for Monsters games, there is still a great variety of options available for hungry Cleveland hockey fans.
All the arena basics can be found here, with combo meals available for younger fans. Bottomless buckets of popcorn are available for $7.50, and are a popular item at Monsters games. Souvenir cups of Coca Cola products are sold at these stands, which feature a free refill.
Quaker Steak and Lube sells their legendary chicken wings both at a stand on the concourse and at a full-service, sit down restaurant behind section 133. The Za! Stand sells slices of local favorite Georgio’s pizza. Fans looking for nachos should head to Nacho Loco for a wide variety of this stadium favorite.
Fans looking for more nutritious options will certainly head towards the Healthy for Life stand, where gluten-free options anchor a healthy menu.
Monster fans looking for an adult beverage will gravitate towards the Jack Daniels or Cheers and Beers stands, which offer a variety of draft beers and mixed drinks. The Soucy Brew Works stands features craft brews from local favorite Soucy brewery.
A complete listing of all of Quicken Loans Arena’s concessions can be found here.
The atmosphere at Quicken Loans Arena is dominated by “The Humungotron,” Cleveland’s enormous video board. The board stretches beyond each blue line, and is put to great use throughout the game with replays, crowd shots, advertisements and game stats.
Veteran minor league hockey fans will find much that is familiar here, from the mascot who roams the crowd interacting with fans to the Monster Hockey Girls, who perform throughout the game and lead some of the giveaways. Younger fans can get their faces painted and make signs at the Express Yourself tables on the concourse, and veteran fans will gravitate towards the booster club tables, where jersey raffles and 50/50 tickets can be purchased.
Be sure to check out the arena’s pro shop. Despite sharing the arena with the NBA’s Cavaliers, a decent amount of Monsters gear can be found here.
In the late 1800s Cleveland’s Central Market area was the center of the city. Just a few blocks from the growing commercial district at the Public Square, Central Market was a bustling residential neighborhood with a busy bazaar. The entire neighborhood was destroyed in a fire in the 1940s. By 1990 the neighborhood consisted of mostly empty commercial buildings and surface lots.
City leaders had long eyed this part of Cleveland for a new stadium project. In 1984 voters rejected a ballot issue to fund a 72,000 seat domed stadium for baseball and football. In 1990, the issue was again brought to the voters, and this time the measure passed, providing funding for Jacobs (now Progressive) Field and Quicken Loans Arena.
The building of the stadia has spurred a complete revitalization of the Gateway district. There are close to 60 bars and restaurants within a short walk of Quicken Loans Arena, along with a number of major hotels. A few blocks from the arena is the JACK Casino.
There are numerous historic structures in and around the area, including the Soldiers & Sailors Monument at Cleveland Public Square and The Arcade, which opened in 1890 as the nation’s first indoor shopping center.
Check ClevelandGatewayDistrict.com for a full list of shops, restaurants and parking lots/garages in the area. The site also contains information on walking tours of the historic buildings located in the Gateway District.
The Monsters are annually among the AHL’s leaders in attendance. However, sharing a home with a major league team in a large city means that the Monsters have more weekday games on their schedule than most teams in the circuit. Visiting fans will see a great disparity in the size of the crowd between weekday and weekend games.
As is typical in minor league hockey, the games are marketed as family entertainment, and you will see many families mixed in the crowd with the diehard fans.
Located in downtown Cleveland at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 77, Quicken Loans Arena is easy to find. Parking in the area, designed to accommodate full-stadium Indians or Cavaliers games, is more than ample for any Monsters game. Getting in and out of the downtown area is fairly easy.
Fans will enter Quicken Loans arena onto a wide concourse. Since the building is designed for much larger crowds than typically attend a Monsters game, getting around is not an issue, even during intermissions.
The concourse empties about halfway up the seating bowl. All the seats in the arena are maroon folding stadium seats. Only the lower level is sold for Monster games, as the upper level is curtained off.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets for Monsters games range in price from $11-$42, with most tickets priced at $25 or less. A two dollar discount is given to AAA members at the ticket booth. Parking in the many garages and surface lots surrounding Quicken Loans Arena range in price from $10-$15.
The Monsters offer many specials to reduce the cost of heading downtown, including 1-2-3 Fridays, featuring one dollar sodas, two dollar hot dogs and three dollar select beers. Kids Games, featuring free tickets for youths, and College nights, featuring discounts for students, also dot the schedule.
Be warned that you will be paying major league prices for concessions at Quicken Loans Arena.
An extra point is awarded for the banners honoring Cleveland hockey history, dating all the way back to the original Barons. A banner honoring Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bower is conspicuous among them.
A free program is given to all fans who enter the game, which contains info on Cleveland’s hockey history, activities for the kids, quiet spaces and more.
Interesting facts about Cleveland’s history are posted above every vomitory at Quicken Loans Arena.
A final extra point is awarded for the Humungotron, the gigantic scoreboard which instantly makes every other scoreboard in the world obsolete. As large as it is, it doesn’t seem to interfere with enjoying the action on the ice.
You would think that sharing your home with a major league basketball team would be a less than ideal situation for a minor league hockey team. This hardly seems to be the case in Cleveland, where the Monsters are regularly among the American Hockey League’s leaders in attendance. While Quicken Loans Arena is clearly too big for the Monsters, the melding of major league amenities with minor league enthusiasm makes a trip to downtown Cleveland a trip worth taking.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.